Children’s services are under increasing pressure. As purse strings tighten, and children’s services have to respond to an ever-widening range of challenges, is there a risk we often only help those in most dire need?
A group of MPs and Peers is aiming to understand these pressures, and establish how high the bar is before services step in to help a child in need.
The All Party Parliamentary Group for Children (APPGC) is conducting a new Inquiry into the causes of variation in the thresholds for accessing children’s social care services. We are keen to hear directly from social workers about how decisions around threshold levels are made in practice.
The new Inquiry, coordinated by the National Children’s Bureau, follows on from the APPGC’s ‘No Good Options’ report into children’s social care that was published earlier this year. ‘No Good Options’ found evidence that intervention was getting later and that there was significant variation in the way children’s needs were being assessed and met across the country. Crucially, it showed that local authorities were interpreting their statutory duties in fundamentally different ways.
Our ‘one-year-on’ Inquiry will explore the causes of variation in threshold levels across children’s social care services. It will look beyond local demographics to explore the factors affecting unexpected variation in the proportion of children in need, subject to a child protection plan, or taken into care in different local areas. Specifically, the new Inquiry will analyse the thresholds used to determine when a child qualifies for support.
We are undertaking a survey of frontline social workers in conjunction with the British Association of Social Workers (BASW) to inform the Inquiry. The survey provides an opportunity to share your views and experience and to help make sure the Inquiry is informed by real on-the-ground experience.
If you are a social worker in England, please take a few minutes to complete this survey and ask others to complete it too.
By contributing to our inquiry you will help us understand the challenges of providing support for vulnerable children, and whether we need an urgent rethink about the threshold for care.
Tim Loughton MP is chair of the All-Party Parliamnetary Group for Children.